"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Under Leafy Conditions Try A Wobbly-Spoon Type Lure
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

Fall fishing is about to run into a temporary stumbling block, but it won’t last long--especially if the usual fall rainy season is on track.
It’s the falling leaves floating on the surface of streams, rivers and some lakes, especially those bordered by trees and brush.
It is almost time for the familiar old defoliation season. That spells doom for anglers who use artificial lures, and, to a degree, for those who use live or natural baits. And if you want to take the scenario to the extreme, it also turns the water black  (I have done little good in trying to fish water that has been turned dark by falling leaves). I have caught some fish under those conditions, but they were mostly crappies and with live minnows for bait.
The falling leaves are a rustling signal for the crappies to go on the feed, but one of the things my dad taught me about outdoorsing is that bass--especially largemouth--will hit live, hard-shelled crayfish (crawdads, or hard craws to Hoosiers) when foliage of the tamarack, mainly a tree of the north, turns yellow in what would be late summer for our country. Actually, said my dad, although the tamarack is typified as a treeline “inhabitant,” they have been known to thrive in bogs and swamps of northeastern Indiana.
How my dad became familiar with a tree I didn’t know, I cannot say. But in the post-Depresion years, he seemed to know of which he spoke. And in late September or early October he pinned his bass-fishing hopes hope on live, hard craws hooked through the tail, suspended below a bobber, and thus kept alive.
My dad’s rods and reels had been lost in a woodshed fire and we fished with long ash poles with linen lines as long as the poles. This allowed plenty of running room for bass. Soon after this fishing lesson, my dad put me into bass fishing proper by buying me a South Bend No. 450 bait casting outfit and a few artificial lures, chiefly the red and cream-colored South Bend Bass-O-Reno of two sizes and a handful of others. The SB Lures had been in the drugstore window so long the fly specks could not be removed. But they worked, and they prodded me into what probably would be hundreds of other artificial lures, all fish catchers.
Back to the problem of leaves on water.
Fishing artificials under these conditions is tough going--leaves tend to foul the action of most lures. But if the angler uses a pumping, jigging motion on the retrieve, he can keep a lure free of leaves and that gives it a rising-falling motion that is good for all fish. Fish often hit a lure when it is descending in the water. The strike, in this case, may be noticed by a sideway motion of the line, as opposed to sinking.
I use a Johnson Silver Minnow (one hook spoon) most often with a dark braided line most often for this kind of fishing, and allow it to flutter up and down two to three feet deep. Of course, if there is natural underwater cover, I want my lure to pass close to it.  The spoon is dressed with a 20-tail, black and yellow Hawaiian Wiggler skirt reversed. Reversed, it flows outward and flutters.
There are many other spoon-type lures, and as Rocky Hauk, my bassin’ mentor, used to say: “They’ll all catch fish.” 
However, lure selection goes a long way toward success. Under floating-leaf conditions, a wobbly-spoon-type lure is the best bet--most plugs and spinner baits are out, but they may work for short casts. Plugs, especially, collect leaves. Spinners are clogged.

OBSERVATIONS--In spite of the fact that our summer drought may have stiffled some forms of natural production, I am seeing a few paw-paws on my favorite bushes (trees), but fewer than usual . . . maybe enough for a pudding or pie or two . . . that pretty, white-topped flower you are seeing in shaded areas is the white snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum), a plentiful beauty . . . The name comes from the bushy, snake-like root system. . . .   

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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